As the climate change emergency intensifies and increasingly threatens Ottawans’ safety, health, and wellbeing, our elected officials must accelerate our city’s response accordingly.
Summer 2023 has been a disturbing one for climate change. Numerous global records have been broken, including those of high sea surface temperatures, hottest global average temperature four days in a row, and low sea-ice levels. Many have suffered the effects of climate change, whether flooding, extreme heat, or intense drought, with people experiencing negative health impacts or even losing their lives.
We are feeling climate change effects here in Ottawa too. Environment Canada judged Ottawa’s air quality a “very high” health risk for multiple days in June, the highest level on its scale. The smoke causing this risk, of course, came from wildfires in Québec among unusually dry conditions. Ottawans are experiencing everything from worsened asthma and headaches to deep worry about when to keep children inside and anxiety about worsening climate change.
We know these extreme weather conditions are caused by climate change—and specifically human activity—and that they will only increase as global average temperatures rise. Yet if we act quickly and decisively, a great deal of future suffering can be averted while also improving quality of life, creating health and economic benefits, and strengthening community in our city.
Ottawa is well positioned to act on climate change. Globally, 70 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions come from cities. As one of the world’s wealthiest nations, moreover, Canada produces a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gases.
We have no time to waste, but sadly, Ottawa’s action on climate change has been insufficient—despite City Council having declared a climate emergency in 2019. The City approved a Climate Change Master Plan in 2020, although a recent update revealed that only two of the eight priorities are on track. City Council’s recently released Term of Council Priorities contains little that will reduce emissions, and even less to hold Council accountable to do so.
This is why we’re calling on Mayor Sutcliffe to take climate action and show true climate leadership in our nation’s capital. Please sign this petition—and please also consider sending him an email to the same effect.